BALOBESHAYI

African Women Voices

I Wish I Was Wearing a Full-Covering Veil

Not because I have something to hide or because I hate some parts of my body. I do accept myself the way that I am but there are times when other people ‘s looks are just too many. This time arrived in Istanbul where I’m filming the fourth episode of the series on African migrants, (IN)VISIBLE CITIES. Few days back, after coming to the city for the second time I happily wrote a blog post saying I am not that black anymore compared to the first time I came. Meaning that people weren’t taking pictures of me all the time, they weren’t cat-calling me or simply staring that much. Well, I take it back.

It might have been the case on the European side of this wonderful city, but I recently went to the Asian side which I personally like more since it is less commercial, crowded and more genuine. But since I stepped foot in the tram I could see the attention I was driving. Two men sitting started staring at me as if I was a ghost, they were so distracted they almost got off the wrong stop. I’m quite used to staring in buses and metro in Istanbul, and I’m grateful I always have a male companion with me. Because after a while it gets rude and unbearable. Especially when you arrive to the opening night of a calligraphy exhibition and men are provided with cameras. Oh boy! What I didn’t do to avoid appearing in one of those photos!

I hate being in pictures, I don’t usually allow my friend to tag me on Facebook or to share my pictures. Maybe there’s an unconscious part of me that really thinks people are stealing my soul when snapping. But the worst is taking a picture without permission. Last time I was here,¬†when I saw people doing it I would snap a picture of them so they’d stop. But this time it got worst. As soon as I entered in the museum where the exhibition was taking place, a well-dressed woman chatting with a middle-age man took her phone and tried to take a picture, I moved away. That was my sport for the night.

But I’m told that’s the sport of many African people here in Istanbul. A friend from Burundi told us that if people ask it politely he accepts to be in the photo with them but if they try to do it hidden, he faces them and asks (not very politely) to delete the picture. Of course he speaks the language fluently. Another friend from Senegal who has been here for a couple of years seemed very tired when she said: “If you go to Senegal, children there knows where Turkey is and how Turks looks like even if they never met them, this is ignorance!”

Maybe it is, maybe is a strong curiosity but truth is after a while the fun of the discovery goes away and the pissing off starts loudly and badly.

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This entry was posted on 11 April 2014 by in Comment, Ethnic Minorities, Women and tagged , , .
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